The premise behind behavioural interviewing is the assumption that past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour in similar situations.
Behavioural-based interviewing, also known as competency-based interviewing, is used to find out if a candidate has done something rather than can they do something. This interview technique allows candidates to demonstrate their competencies, knowledge, skills and abilities by providing specific examples of past experiences from work, school or life generally.
In a traditional job-interview, the candidate can often tell the interviewer what he or she thinks the interviewer wants to hear, even if they are fudging a bit on the truth. Even if the candidate is asked situational questions that start out "How would you handle XYZ situation?" the candidate has very little accountability. How does the interviewer know, if the candidate would really behave in the way they say they would in any given situation? In a behavioural interview, however, it's more difficult for candidates to give responses that are untrue to their character.
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The behavioral interview technique is used to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviours in order to determine their potential for success. The interviewer identifies job-related experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities (competencies) that the organisation has decided are desirable for a particular position.
The employer then structures open ended questions to ask applicants to draw on past behaviour that demonstrates the competency in question. Questions (often not even framed as a question) typically start out: "Tell about a time..." or "Describe a situation..."
When the candidate starts to tell a behavioural story, the behavioural interviewer will probe further for more depth or detail such as "What were you thinking at that point?" or "Tell me more about your meeting with that person," or "Lead me through your decision process," or "Can you give me an example?" or "What did you do?" or "How did you feel?" or "What was your role?" or "What was the result?"
This type of interviewing is sometimes known as the STAR method:
Situation or Task - describe the background or the specific event or task you were given
Action - describe what action or steps you took, and
Result - describe the outcomes you achieved.
Click on the image below for a list of sample behavioural interview questions